On February 12th, ten students from Erasmus University Rotterdam visited Coopr’s offices for the first session of Coopr Academy. Amidst delicious food and wine, they delved into the core of PR and were presented with this year’s exciting client.
It is February 12th, and the sky at Coolhaven is painted in hues of orange and pink as ten students make their way towards the long-awaited Coopr Academy. There’s a sense of nervousness, overcome only by the anticipation and excitement that is to be expected when presented with an opportunity like Coopr Academy. After all, it is not often that students are given the chance to work for a real client, on behalf of one of the most successful PR agencies in the Benelux region.
In the coming weeks, students of the program will learn all about Coopr’s PR model from Coopr’s best specialists. We’ll be divided in teams, and given a challenge, directly from one of their clients. In past years, students worked for Lexa.nl, and MTV. Everyone seems to be wondering who we’ll get this year. With the stellar collection of clients Coopr has amassed since its creation in 2009 (think Coca-Cola, Adidas, Netflix), the possibilities are endless. Throughout the weeks, we’ll work alongside a mentor from Coopr to develop a pitch for the client, and present a possible solution to their problem. It will be interactive and practical, the perfect complement to the theory we’ve been cultivating at Erasmus University Rotterdam for years.
The offices are splattered in greens and whites, creating a cozy, inviting feel that seems impossible to manufacture. Everyone murmurs in approval, amidst other conversations, as we take a drink and a seat. Before long, the Coopr specialists have taken the floor, and are introducing themselves, their interests, and their love for PR. Shelly Delwel takes the lead, and shares her impressive experience through a moodboard. We quickly learn she’ll be one of the mentors throughout the program. The other will be Jose van Genderen, who works with Coca Cola and Lexa.nl and has experience in journalism as well as PR. The friendliness of the presenters seems to get everyone to sit back and relax as Jody Koehler takes over. He is one of the co-founders of Coopr, and makes his love for PR clear as he delves into why he created Coopr.
With their introductions out of the way, it becomes time for us, the students, to share our own moodboards. Prior to the first meeting, we were all instructed to create a moodboard that answered three questions: who am I, what is PR to me, and why am I interested in PR? One by one, we stand up and present ourselves to the group. There’s some overall trends that seem to connect us all: a love for PR stemming from the unique combination of creativity with strategy and analysis, an interest in traveling, and good food, and a history of working in PR or similar communication fields. Somewhere along the way, the food comes out and we all enjoy a delicious meal while listening to the presentations.
After hearing all of our understandings of PR, and why we are interested, Jody Koehler once again takes over to shed light on what PR is, and on the model utilized at Coopr. He highlights the definition of public relations – the management of communication between an organization and its publics – but focuses on how PR has changed in the last years. It turned from a field of communications focused on journalists, to one that requires an understanding of an array of distribution channels. He sheds light on how consumers have become more knowledgeable, and transparency has become more important, meaning that PR is no longer about making the “bad guys” look good, but is, instead, about telling a corporation’s story to the public.
He also explains how Coopr chooses their clients through the use of three questions: Do we understand the company, product or service? Do we use it ourselves? And, the most important of them all, could we drink a beer with them? He highlights the importance of working with people who you could have a beer with, claiming that it’s vital to have a good relationship, and that if people act a certain way, that says something about their organization. Hearing his insights regarding the industry and working with clients seems to get all of us even more excited about working with a client ourselves.
We don’t have to wait long before he presents our very own client, one that passed the three-question-test and one that we are to impress in a month’s time: Pathé!
Pathé is the largest cinema brand in the Netherlands, and enjoys a considerable market share in the industry. But the use of Netflix and other streaming services, and the increasing influence of their competitors has posed a threat. For this reason, they reached out to Coopr, and Coopr has given us the challenge of pitching a solution to them. We are given an in-depth presentation regarding Pathé’s brand, the industry and the challenges they are facing. We are then allowed to ask an array of questions to familiarize ourselves further with the issue and Pathé.
After the final question is answered, the first meeting comes to an official end, but we are provided with the opportunity to have a glass of wine and socialize for a little longer. We get in touch with our respective groups and mentors, and start brainstorming. Everyone seems incredibly excited regarding the client, and the opportunity to tackle such a challenge. Undoubtedly, this enthusiasm will carry on throughout the program.
The Coopr Academy is an incredible opportunity for students to experience a real-world PR problem, and enjoy the guidance of PR professionals. This year, we are looking forward to applying the theory we’ve learned thus far to help Pathé overcome their challenges. There was a clear consensus as we made our way out of Coopr’s offices: we’re looking forward to learning more next week, and diving head-first into the PR world!